Creating a Google Spreadsheet & Search mashup

Google Spreadsheets has a great function which lets you insert data from Google Search and thus automate searches. The function works like this:

=GoogleLookup(entity, attribute)
Image you would like to know how many calories a Big Mac has. In this case entity would get the value “Big Mac” and attribute the value “calories”)

=GoogleLookup("Big Mac", "calories")

In the following example I use a list of countries to look up the corresponding official language. As the countries are in row B the function hast to be:
=GoogleLookup(B2, "official language")

for the first country. You only need to copy the formula into the other cells to get the corresponding values. As this is an automated function, there might be some false values. The lookup function also creates a link to the source so that you might check on the correctness. This could be a great exercise in spotting wrong information! In my example, the languages given for Russia are wrong. If you follow the link you will find out the correct answer, though.

The students might actually learn more by closely examining data that might contain errors than just by giving them the correct data. In any case it is a good exercise in digital literacy. 

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